reviews\ Mar 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

The Sims 3: Showtime review


The Sims franchise has always been one that provides players with an open-ended, sandbox gameplay that allows the user to create their own journey.  Sure, over the course of the series, the game has transformed, adding slightly more direction for players.  For the most part, however, The Sims gives you the feedom to do what you want.

As a kid we are taught to believe in dreams and establish a goal in our life.  Of course, as we age, we begin to realize that these goals may no longer be possible and are replaced with more practical goals, but we never lose the ability to dream.  This is perhaps where The Sims 3 becomes so popular - allowing adults to live their dreams through the life of a Sim.

Become a firefighter, doctor, writer; travel the world; adopt a pet.  Anything is possible in The Sims 3.

Since the game's release in 2009, there has been an abundance of expansion packs and "stuff" packs, all adding to the game's sandbox gameplay method.  Up until Ambitions, The Sims 3 simulated the day after you went to "work".  That expansion changed how that worked, allowing you the option to make decisions at work and playing a part in your career advancement.

The Sims 3: Showtime expansion doesn't change how the game is played, but rather kicks it up a notch, giving you the chance to become a superstar.  And honestly, who, as a kid, has never dreamed of being a superstar?  Heck, I still dream of picking up the ol' bass and going on tour.

Of course, the journey to stardom is not an easy one.  On your way up you will experience the not-so-glamourous side of fame.  Playing off the Ambitions goal, letting you decide your outcome, Showtime has you taking control of your superstar career - with everything from decorating the stage to performing live.

The Sims 3: Showtime adds three new professions: singer, acrobat, and magician.  Much like Ambitions, Showtime has you running all around town performing menial jobs to gain money and valuable experience.  As a singer you perform "Sing-a-Grams", an Acrobat and Magician will perform on the streets.  Welcome to the underside of show-biz. 

In short, it's a grind to gain experience.  Of course, like the other Sims games, the eventual grind will gain you enough experience to level up your profession.  This means you will slowly build your catalog of songs, learn new tricks, and perform more impressive stunts.  While it's fun to see the different stunts and tricks, as well as watch your performances flop in the early stages of your career, Showtime is really just a skin on top of a rather annoying grind process that we've already seen in previous Sims games.

Performing at venues is fairly simple, but provides enough detail to make the experience unique to your Sim.  You won't just be watching your Sim perform; rather, you will participate in the journey and ultimately decide the fate of your career.  Before the performance you can decorate the stage to your liking.  Want Katy Perry ice cream cones everywhere?  You got it!  While performing, you have the option to choose which stunts or songs your Sim performs while on stage, talk to the audience (tell a joke or insult them, etc.).

New to the game is the SimFest, a random talent show that appears around town where Magicians, Acrobats, and Singers compete against each other.  Performing at these will give you job experience without having to schedule gigs.

The big addition to Sims 3: Showtime, however, is the new SimPort feature.  EA has slowly been building online community interaction within The Sims 3 with the addition of community profile which shows achievements, status updates, and any photos or videos you take in-game. In Showtime you can login to your online profile and connect with the rest of the Sims community, using the new SimPort feature to take your performance career to the next level.

SimPort combines the new professions with the opportunity to interact with other players.  This optional feature allows you to either send your Sim "on tour" to another game or host a friend's Sim on tour in your own game.  It's a fun way to encourage community interaction, and to earn greater rewards like stamps, simoleans, lifetime happiness, and exclusive in-game content.

This could, however, pose a problem.  For users who don't enjoy the idea of interacting with strangers and don't have any friends who play the game, it'll be a useless feature.  I'm going to reserve full judgement on the SimPort feature for the simple fact that, while reviewing, there were limited friends available to actually request going on tour with.  In the future, I expect more users will be readily accepting tour invites.  It's definitely a fun feature to encourage interaction amongst The Sims community, but it's also a feature that can easily be forgotten about.  That being said, the new expansion can just as easily be enjoyed without the added SimPort icing.

In addition to SimPort, Showtime adds extra features to encourage community interaction.  Now you can search for and access friends online profiles in-game.  There is also the option to update your status and post it on your Player Wall on the community website.  Lastly, there are achievements you can earn as you play the game, which awards you badges you and your friends can view online.  Achievements include things like hiring a maid,  selling 25 singer albums, try a Day Spa Package, etc.  It's a a nice feature that gives players an alternative option to explore.  Once again, because it's optional, it shouldn't affect those who have no interest in it.

And last, but not least, Showtime adds your typical Sims 3 goodies.  These include a new area (Starlight Shores) and the return of older objects like the DJ booth, pool table, mechanical bull, and much more.  New "Diva", "Natural Born Performer", and "Social Butterfly" traits were added to compliment the new performer professions.  Similar to previous expansion packs Showtime adds a new Genie character to help grant three wishes.

On the surface, The Sims 3: Showtime adds some nice features to the game.  The new professions and interactive community features are nice additions, but in no way is The Sims 3: Showtime a must have.  While the professions are fun, they aren't anything we haven't had similar experiences with other professions.  It's a nice change to dream big with Showtime, but unless you are really into show business or willing to fully utilize the SimPort feature, you'll probably find little use in this expansion pack.


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